‘A child without discipline is, in a way, a lost child. You cannot have freedom without discipline.’
Ricardo Montalban (Mexican Actor)
A few weeks ago, Smiling Flower turned the magical age of two. She had a horrible virus so, sadly, the event passed somewhat unmarked.
However, it is now official: we are entering the era of the ‘terrible twos.’ What will this mean for us?
She clearly has some awareness of right and wrong now. Her chief crimes to date are eating her shoes, eating my laptop lead (necessitating me buying a new one!) and terrorising the cat (she used to stroke him so gently but now alternates gentleness with a vice like grip of the head or a swift poke of the eye…) She knows these things are wrong because she does them, looks up to see if she has caught anyone’s eye, and then shakes her head emphatically with a cheeky grin.
More seriously, she has taken to testing out her teeth on our collarbones. Apparently it is fairly common at her age but certainly something that needs addressing when it happens. And today she had a complete meltdown because I wouldn’t let her pretend ‘to drive’ the car after we’d been shopping. She had signed clearly her desire to do this and it was highly traumatic that this eloquence wasn’t rewarded with ‘wish granted.’ I had to pin her into the car seat whilst she screamed much to our mutual distress.
So how do you discipline? I was smacked if the deed was serious and that seemed to sort me out fairly well. But of course, we can’t do that anymore. Pete and I have been practising our BSL ‘non manual features’ and I believe I can do a good ‘angry’ when necessary but the animation in my face just seems to be of interest rather than inducing pause for thought.
Amongst our friends I see various techniques at work; naughty steps, long explanations as to why things are wrong, withdrawal of treats and loud reprimands.
I have used a ‘naughty spot’ on the carpet but it needs accompanying by an explanation which I sometimes struggle to give in BSL. Withdrawal of treats doesn’t work as she is a bit too laid back to mind about most things, and there would have to be a very clear and quick connection between the punishment and the crime.
Most of the time I think I simply lack the will to make her cry which is the inevitable outcome of forcibly separating myself from her. Naughty behaviour seems to often come as a consequence of us both being tired – me too tired to properly direct play and engage, Smiling flower too tired to amuse herself, and therefore wanting more attention. Then we are both more irritable and I feel instantly guilty if I punish behaviour that I feel I helped initiate.
So how do you balance the vicious circle of tiredness, naughtiness, punishment, guilt and love?? All thoughts on a postcard please… (or in the comment box below!)